Philly: Welcome to the Year of Small

From the Philadelphia Inquirer writer Inga Saffron, via urbanist Randall Robinson: "Welcome to the year of small - small parks, small houses, small improvements, small plans, but not necessarily small thinking.  The smart places are investing their limited disposable income in low-cost, high-impact projects that improve the quality of life for people who actually live in them.  After the rapid-fire boom decade, the slowdown is giving Philadelphia a chance to catch its breath and think about what kind of city it wants to be. "The rowhouse boomlets taking place in certain Philadelphia neighborhoods belong in the category of incremental improvements that make urban life better.  And these infill projects remind us that progress continues even in hard times.  How can there be so much rowhouse construction when bankrupt developers are frantically auctioning off unsold condo units?  Despite the city's 11.5 percent unemployment rate, there is still a contingent of people who need housing and are casting their lot with the city.

"Rowhouses can be built incrementally, a couple at a time, making them a relatively low-risk enterprise for developers, who can sell them as they go. At relatively larger projects, such as Brown Hill Development's The Nine, the pace of work is scaled to the market. So while the first three houses there have been sold, the developer is just starting to frame out the next trio.  Condo towers, in contrast, have to be built all at once, and then the developer has to hunt down a hundred or more buyers.  With rowhouses, the main challenge is finding land in the right place at the right price."  Full article here.